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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. E F Howarth


Eric Francis Howarth was born on 3rd December 1918, the son of George William Fernley Howarth and Mena Ferida Howarth (nee Farage).

His father worked as a house surveyor. Eric attended a private preparatory school before moving to Alleyn’s School on 14th October 1928, entering Form I.

The reports written by Howarth’s teachers suggest he was not academically strong, despite this he progressed steadily to Form L.VI.E. In June 1935, he is recorded as having failed 'G', assumed to be an exam predating 'O'-levels and GCSEs.



He left Alleyn’s on 20th December 1935 and went on to become a clerk for a house agents. In the Edward Alleyn Magazine (issue no. 193, vol. 28, Feb 1936) he is noted in the ‘Valete’, which was dedicated to boys leaving the school, as having been part of the swimming team for his house 'Bradings' in 1934-35.

He was called up on 1st September 1939, completed his training and joined 4 Ferry Pilot Pool from 10 BGS on 16th May 1940.

He was posted from the Pool to France on 29th May and joined 501 Squadron at Le Mans soon afterwards. The squadron was withdrawn to Jersey on 17th June 1940 and re-assembled at Croydon on the 21st, moving to Middle Wallop on 4th July.

Howarth damaged a Ju87 on 29th July.

On 7th August he collided with Sgt. WA Wilkinson during a landing approach at Gravesend in poor visibility. Both men were unhurt.

The two men made no further flights with 501 and both were posted away to No. 1 (C) OTU, Silloth on 12th August where they converted to Ansons. Howarth and Wilkinson joined 48 Squadron at Hooton Park on 5th September, a coastal patrol unit. Howarth flew his first operational sortie on the 8th.

Howarth was killed on 5th September 1941 as a Flight Sergeant. Anson I W1769 crashed into the sea after colliding with a davit on HMS Hebe while on an ASR sortie.

Also lost were:

Sgt. RD Starkie-Bence
F/Sgt. JJ Stritch
Sgt. FW Taylor

Howarth is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, panel 36.


Additional research courtesy of Nicola Waddington, MA, RMARA, FRSA, Alleyn’s School Archivist.


Above image courtesy of Dean Sumner.


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